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Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum

Fort Curtis at Helena

Attack on Pine Bluff

Confederate Approaches to Helena

Following the Union occupation of Little Rock, Gen. Frederick Steele sent Col. Powell Clayton’s Fifth Kansas and First Indiana Cavalry Regiments to garrison Pine Bluff. On October 24, Confederate Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke set out from southern Arkansas with a small Confederate army, intent on crushing Clayton’s small force. A patrol of Kansans encountered the Rebels as they approached Pine Bluff upsetting Marmaduke’s plans for a sneak attack. Clayton fortified the courthouse square with heavy hay bales aided by escaped slaves who also fought along the Arkansas River bank. After a day-long battle, the Confederates fell back with Marmaduke reporting: “The Federals fought like Devils.”

In late June 1863, some 7,646 Confederate soldiers left their bases in Little Rock and Jacksonport to attack the Federal stronghold of Helena on the Mississippi River and to try to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. For days, they struggled through bad roads and swamps before reaching the outskirts of Helena on July 3. The Confederates attacked in the early morning hours of July 4; the strongly entrenched Yankees defeated them soundly inflicting 1,636 casualties.

Monroe and Thompson’s Approach (Confederate Cols. J.C. Monroe and G.W. Thompson followed this route to strike the Federal defenders of Pine Bluff from the northwest.) Start at Princeton on Hwy. 9 to Hwy. 48 through Carthage to Farindale then U.S. 167 to Grant County Road 14 to Hwy. 35 to Grapevine then Hwy. 54 to Providence Road to Summers Road to Princeton Pike into Pine Bluff.

Fagan’s Approach (James Fagan’s Arkansas troops had a relatively easy journey by train and by foot to the staging area for their attack on Battery D at Helena.) Start at Little Rock on U.S. 70 through North Little Rock to Hwy. 161 then Hwy. 294 from Jacksonville to Furlow then Hwy. 89 to Lonoke then U.S. 70 to DeValls Bluff then Hwy. 33 to U.S. 79 through Clarendon then Hwy. 86 to U.S. 49 through Marvell to Maple Corner then Hwy. 316 to Trenton then Phillips County Road 300 to U.S. 49 into Helena.

Newton’s Approach (Robert C. Newton’s Arkansas, Missouri and Texas horsemen followed this route to strike Pine Bluff from the southeast.) Start on Hwy. 35 three miles south of Staves to Hwy. 212 then U.S. 79 to Hwy. 54 to Pinebergen then Hwy. 15 into Pine Bluff. Greene’s Approach (Colton Greene’s Confederate cavalry rode up the Sulphur Springs Road to attack Pine Bluff from the west.) Start at Princeton on Hwy. 9 to Hwy. 48 through Carthage to Farindale then U.S. 167 to Grant County Road 14 to Hwy. 35 to Grapevine then Hwy. 54 through Sulphur Springs to U.S. 79 into Pine Bluff.

Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission

Marmaduke’s Approach (John S. Marmaduke’s Confederate Missouri cavalry followed this route to attack Battery A at Helena.) Start at Jacksonport on Hwy. 17 to Tupelo then Hwy. 33 to Augusta then U.S. 64 to Morton then Hwy. 269 to U.S. 49 then Hwy. 78 at Hunter through Wheatley and Moro to U.S. 79 to Hwy. 121 through Rondo to Hwy. 1 then Hwy. 242 at Lexa into Helena. Price, McRae and Parson’s Approach (Sterling Price’s Confederate division – Dandridge McRae’s Arkansans and Mosby M. Parsons’s Missourians – left Jacksonport with Marmaduke on June 23, but their march soon turned miserable as they floundered through east Arkansas to make their assault on Battery C.) Start at the junction of U.S. 49 and Phillips County Road 307 near Pillar then to Phillips County Road 300 to Newman Drive to Perry Drive into Helena.

• Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission

Pine Bluff Station

79

Walker’s Approach (L. Marsh Walker’s cavalry looped around Helena to strike the city from the north via Sterling Road, but Newport their tepid attack did little to affect the Union 17 soldiers defending the city.) Start at the junction of U.S. 49 and Hwy. 242 then 49 to Park Street in West Helena then 64 4th Street to Phillips County Road 217 to Phillips County Road 215 to Phillips County Road 239 into Helena.

Pine Bluff Little Rock

54 54

48 9

70

79

40

49 86

49

Helena/ West Helena

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